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Published: 7 Oct 2022

EIGHT fourth year TIA honour students will present to examiners, supervisors and representatives from industry plus the Ag Institute Australia (AIA) on October 7 at their Honours Seminar. The presentations are a culmination of a year's hard work for the students, who are researching and building the future of the agricultural sector.

Lecturer and Honours year coordinator Dr Beth Penrose (pictured below) said Honours is a great way for students to put into practice the skills and knowledge they've learnt over their degree.

They work with industry members to complete projects that have real impact for Tasmanian growers and the international agricultural sector." Dr Penrose said.

"The Honours students also learn really important skills regarding time and project management and leadership as well as lab and field skills. This makes them very desirable to industry and most of them are offered a job before they graduate.

"We are still taking applications for Honours starting in 2023, so if you're interested, please get in touch."

Dr Beth Penrose stands in front of cows in a paddock smiling to camera.

Holly’s research is on fertile ground

IN her fourth year of studying, Bachelor of Agricultural Science with Honours student Holly Coad (pictured top) would like to know if her research can advance farmer knowledge of fertiliser applications.

As part of her Honours year, Holly will present her project - The effects of increased soil temperature on phosphorus availability in Tasmanian soils as part of the Honours Seminar.

Holly's research uses a Tasmanian Ferrosol and Dermosol to assess whether increased soil temperature causes a decline in P (phosphorous) availability and where the P is deposited once removed from soil solution.

Soil mineralogy data was then used to attribute differences in results in the two soil types.

"Phosphorus is an essential macronutrient required for many physilogical and biological processes but currently 30 per cent of the world's arable soil is P deficient," Holly explained.

"However, with current fertiliser prices and the planetary boundary of P

usage being double the recommended usage, the affordability and accessibility has drastically decreased.

"In addition to this, there are many unknown effects on soil nutrient cycling, particularly for P."

Holly also hopes her results might be used as a baseline study before being used for field trials to further explore Tasmanian soils.

"This research can be used to advance farmer knowledge of fertiliser applications by incorporating knowledge of soil chemical and physical characteristics rather than just crop requirements.

"This will help increase fertiliser efficiency, decrease losses of P, and increase productivity of Tasmanian soils to benefit the farmer"

Amy Taylor and Richard Rawnsley stand together next to a dam in a paddock.

Seaweed solution is the key for Amy

BACHELOR of Agriculture Honours student Amy Taylor (pictured above with Dr Richard Rawnsley) will present her final year project next week, after joining the University of Tasmania from Melbourne to study her Honours year.

"Honours is full on but gives you a taste of what research really is,” Amy said.

Her research project - Can Asparagopsis be grown on farm? investigates the feasibility of growing Asparagopsis on dairy farms for feed supplement purposes.

"Asparagopsis is an Australian native alga (seaweed) that contains bromoform, which is capable of reducing methane emissions when incorporated into livestock feed," Amy said.

"This investigation looked at the scale and cost of producing Asparagopsis on-farm, and what would need to change in order for it to be profitable for farmers.”

Additionally, the project determined if dairy effluent can be used as a nitrogen source to support seaweed growth.

"The final chapter determined the rate at which bromoform breaks down after Asparagopsis has been harvested," Amy said.

"All aspects of this investigation tackled different factors that are important to understand, if Asparagopsis was cultivated on-farm.”

Amy worked with TIA researchers currently undertaking a program of projects investigating Asparagopsis' role in methane emissions reduction using red algae commercially grown on Tasmania's East Coast.

"I would like people to understand the potential Asparagopsis has in farm systems,” Amy said.

"It would be great if this could be a starting point in trying new ways to grow the seaweed, as there is not enough commercial production in Australia."

Source: This article was published in Tasmanian Country Newspaper on 7 October 2022